So he can't walk on water.
Nor heal the sick with a touch.
His smile won't summon sunrise, nor cause angelic choirs to sing from the skies.
Still. Of all the presidential candidates to ever rise on the world stage, none have appeared more attuned than Barack Hussein Obama to notions of the common good--notions of inclusion, openness, nurturing, forgiveness and reconciliation, in keeping with our best spiritual traditions.
It showed in all the beautiful acts of his first 24 hours in office.
Our savior? On some level he'd better be, else we are lost.
Economically, Constitutionally, environmentally, militarily, diplomatically, culturally, and ethically, we have fallen.
Our challenges are existential, not in some mysterious, intellectual way, but in the sense that our very existence has been put at risk. And it's been put at risk mostly by forces that have grown from the darkness inside our own hearts.
False prophets led us to this abyss mostly by pointing fingers at the alleged shortcomings of others as the source of all our troubles. The result has been ill-advised invasions, torture, deregulation, military budgets that grow insanely, politics of personal destruction, waste, corruption, assaults on personal liberties, the Constitution, the very earth.
To acknowledge we've lost our way, marching off in every direction with drums pounding, violins skirling and banners flying, is to acknowledge the need for salvation. We're hanging by a thread. One false move and we risk unimaginable falls. Business and politics as usual will not save us. Pandering, blaming others, drawing down dwindling resources, building fierce new weapons and marching off against imagined enemies are luxuries we can no longer afford.
Has anyone challenged such old ways of doing business as Obama has? Of all the presidential candidates I've ever witnessed, his message has been the most hopeful, at least so far.
So far, he's been about healing. So far he's been about reaching out. So far he's been about uniting the tribes.
No, this impulse doesn't show in every appointment, and we must watch such players with vigilance. Still, as teachers from Jesus to Machiavelli have noted, there's wisdom in hugging your enemies close by.
A dinner for his biggest opponent, John McCain, on the eve of the inauguration? Unprecdented.
A place in the new administration for chief rivals Hillary, Biden and others? Outside the norm.
Gathering both a fundamentalist minister and a gay bishop into inauguration festivities? Unheard of.